Rights and Wrongs: Literatures of Slavery and Emancipation

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides an opportunity to learn about the nineteenth-century precursors in social reform of the more recent campaigns concerning rights and ethical matters (such as animal rights, class politics, feminism, vegetarianism, green issues, alcohol abuse, pacifism).

The literary engagement with explicitly political issues - the literary forms, images and rhetorical strategies employed and the demands on the reader - will be analysed, with reference to theoretical debates on the possible relationships between the aesthetic and the political and to archival research.

Module aims

The module explores the literary engagement with rights and reforms in the nineteenth century, focusing on the following four areas of interest:

1. the literary engagement in the nineteenth century with human rights, with a particular focus on slave narratives (exemplified by the History of Mary Prince) and the abolition of slavery;
2. literary responses to the nineteenth-century campaigns to extend the franchise, with reference to women’s enfranchisement, adult suffrage and Chartism.
3. nineteenth-century animal rights and welfare, vegetarianism and anti-vivisection, with reference to the work of such writers as Frances Power Cobbe, Percy Shelley, Wilkie Collins, Ouida, Gertrude Colmore and Anna Sewell;
4. nineteenth-century temperance and Salvation Army movements, representations of the care and control of the self and others, with reference to the writings of George Bernard Shaw, Anne Bronte and George Eliot.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the diverse strategies for campaigning for rights relating to different groups in the long nineteenth century;
2. evaluate the literary forms, images and rhetorical strategies employed in the texts studied;
3. apply knowledge of nineteenth-century ethical, moral and political issues derived from analysis of literary texts studied on the module;

Module information

Essential Reading
Bronte, Anne, 1848. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Eliot, George, 1866. Felix Holt, The Radical
Nelson, Carolyn Christensen (ed) 2004. Literature of the Women's Suffrage Campaign in England, Broadview Press
Prince, Mary, 1831 (2000). The History of Mary Prince (ed.) Sara Salih, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Sewell, Anna, 1877 (1994). Black Beauty
Shaw, George Bernard, 1907. Major Barbara
Wells, H. G. 1896. The Island of Dr Moreau, 1896

Recommended Reading
Available on Moodle.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: Weekly 1 hour lecture + 1 hr seminar + portfolio exercises We will offer a mixture of tailored online, digital, and campus-based teaching where it may be possible and as appropriate, along with personalised one-to-one consultation with academic staff.


  • H. G. Wells. (2005) The island of Doctor Moreau, London: Penguin.
  • Sewell, Anna. (2011) Black Beauty: his grooms and companions : the autobiography of a horse, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
  • Shaw, Bernard. (1924) Major Barbara: in three acts, London: Constable.
  • (2004) Literature of the women's suffrage campaign in England, Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press.
  • George Eliot. (1967) Felix Holt, the radical, London: Dent.
  • Prince, Mary. (c1997) The history of Mary Prince: a West Indian slave, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Brontë, Anne. (1963) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Agnes Grey, London: Dent. vol. no. 685
  • Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Bowl of Gold Fishes,
  • Pankhurst, Sylvia. (no date) Writ on Cold Slate, London: The Dreadnought Publishers.
  • Evelyn Sharp. (1910) Rebel women, New York: John Lane Co.
  • Sewell, Anna; Guest, Kristen. (2011) Black Beauty: his grooms and companions : the autobiography of a horse, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
  • Pankhurst, Christabel. (1913) The great scourge and how to end it, London: E. Pankhurst.
  • Gina M. Dorré. (2016) Victorian fiction and the cult of the horse, London: Routledge.
  • Thomas Paine's Rights of Man,

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay (2,000 words)    55% 
Coursework   Participation    5% 
Coursework   Poster presentation and 1,500 word report    25% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio    15% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Katharine Cockin, email:
Professor Katharine Cockin
LiFTS General Office – email: Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
University of Chichester
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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